Hand Plane vs Computer

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Forum topic by David Craig posted 05-15-2012 12:22 AM 1804 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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David Craig

2137 posts in 3282 days

05-15-2012 12:22 AM

Topic tags/keywords: technology plane longevity brief reflection

In one corner, Bailey #5. Age – 90, weighing in at about 4 3/4 pounds. Technical components, flat sole, removable blade, adjustable frog.

In the opposite corner, Dell laptop. Age – 5, weighing in at about 5.5 pounds. Technical components, motherboard, 2.0 GHZ CPU, 512 MB memory and a 60 gig hard drive.

Contest – Longevity and the usefulness of the technology.

Winner – Bailey #5 hands down.

I can barely even give this old laptop away. Most of those I offered to thought it was too “old.”

I work in IT and am always fascinated with the advancement of technology, the ever growing capabilities of the computer and what I can do with it.

But when I see something that’s usefulness can never be diminished, I can’t help but be impressed even more.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

25 replies so far

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2394 days

#1 posted 05-15-2012 12:48 AM

It’s obvious – you need to turn the laptop into a plane.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View Brad's profile


1139 posts in 2913 days

#2 posted 05-15-2012 12:55 AM

Ah but David. We DO “upgrade” our hand planes. We “tune” them like you would your laptop. And we “upgrade” their cutting irons and cap irons with aftermarket goodies like you would add an SSD or more memory to a laptop. Still, your point is taken. Even without those upgrades and with a bit of tuning, your #5 will still cut wood well into the 21st century…and beyond. No can do with a laptop.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Redcloud's profile


32 posts in 2511 days

#3 posted 05-15-2012 01:09 AM

David…... still wanting to give away that laptop? :-)

View SteveMI's profile


1123 posts in 3467 days

#4 posted 05-15-2012 01:09 AM

I love it!!

View ChuckV's profile


3175 posts in 3700 days

#5 posted 05-15-2012 01:13 AM


That is an interesting point. As a software developer of way too many years, I am drawn to the opposing properties of woodworking – the physical presence and the longevity of everything from the materials to the tools to the finished products.

Many of my tools and projects will be passed on to my children. Computers represent amazing technology, but are fleeting – just another part of our throw-away world.

Have you checked that Bailey #5 for viruses?

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2479 days

#6 posted 05-15-2012 01:40 AM

My hand planes are using the same OS that I had when I got them, no critical updates, never crashes, just an occasional tune up and as good as they day I got’em.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2460 days

#7 posted 05-15-2012 01:46 AM

I don’t even want to think about sharpening a laptop.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)


15647 posts in 2791 days

#8 posted 05-15-2012 01:47 AM

What David say, times two… Great post.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Rustic's profile


3254 posts in 3769 days

#9 posted 05-15-2012 02:55 AM

I will take your laptop from ya if you are giving it away.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3846 days

#10 posted 05-15-2012 03:32 AM

Love it!

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2671 days

#11 posted 05-15-2012 04:45 AM

My 5C collects dust as my new jack and smoother are in hand. That’s not to say it can’t be used to great effect, but I have a better love now.
Tools do get older and they also do get better. I’m simply unwilling to go back to the tear out that I experienced so easily before.
The 5? It can be diminished. How many of us use a transitional plane regularly?

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4245 posts in 3338 days

#12 posted 05-15-2012 04:54 AM

My apologies, for the following is surely the product of a warped mind….......

Ahhhhhhhhh….....but a different point of view….......

The computer represents and contains knowledge possibly generated, at least in principal, thousands of years ago. It could be used to design manufacturing processes, to produce even better planes, than the Bailey. It has computational power much greater than that used to land men on the moon.

The plane will die. The computer will die. But the intellect embodied in that computer will last for millenia.

So… will not outlive the plane. Does that make you inferior to the plane?

Transient organisms, with recorded knowledge…..archived now increasingly, into digital media….....which will outlast written paper bound records… many orders of magnitude…....create increasingly more capable and diverse machines….....even better planes.

But as I sit here, with three computer screens, and three computers humming, ready to do my bidding…...

.....the things I like best about my techie study are….....

.......the keyboard drawer I made myself over 5 years ago out of plywood and heavy duty drawer slides, that has never been finished, because it is constantly in use, and allows me to place a keyboard or a flightsim yoke on it or a racing wheel….....

......and the swiveling three level shelf resting for perfect viewing, for my internet cable modem, router, and switch, built to my needs in my humble shop a few years ago…........

..........and the many little utilities I programmed years ago that make my computer work easier.

Must not trivialize the intellect that went into that mass produced Bailey plane, dependent on the written record of technology, accumulated through the ages, involving metallurgy, engineering, assembly lines….....

OK, OK, OK…......

I know….....’tis somewhat in jest…........but there is a grain of truth there….......

If you have read this far, you must know my latest conversation with David included talking about the next planes I will buy…......

But remember, as you relish the next dish of ice cream, or the taco with sour cream…...all the technology involved in producing it…...and remember it is still totally dependent on cows and their paramours, the bulls, and their spring time antics in the fields….......

......and the wood we use, comes from a plant….......

So….....would you be a woodworking plane, a tree, a computer, a cow, or a bull…..........?...............(-:

With that I rest my…......head on my pillow…...good night.


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3282 days

#13 posted 05-15-2012 05:42 AM

Great responses all.

I think I am reaching that age where there develops a certain fondness of the past and the way things used to be or what my mind likes to imagine they used to be. I am a physical person, I like to touch things, tinker, know how things work. Things are so virutal these days, even some of my close friends are trapped inside these little boxes :) I got into woodworking because I needed something that had texture, substance, something to physically interact with. It keeps me balanced from losing myself. I am turning into a dinosaur in the modern age, but one with excellent keyboarding skills.

As far as the laptop goes, my son is using it. He is 12. His school is requiring students to have computers. He can’t play the latest games on it and it can be used for writing papers. The limitations, in this case, will work well for him.

And, while my plane has not shown any sign of viruses, I do have to check it for bugs. Spiders can be an unpleasant surprise.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2528 days

#14 posted 05-15-2012 05:52 AM

Yes Jim, but you’re not still running a 286, or the even more awesome 486 replacement, which no one will seek out, except maybe a museum curator.
And while the theory that technology makes things better is nice in theory, the reality is, it is applied more in how to make things cheaper, and how to make them last for shorter periods of time.
And the written will last, well after they drop EMPs…

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2787 days

#15 posted 05-15-2012 06:18 AM

yall lost me way back there with Jim my head hurts,got a old desk top computer dont know what it is but has window xp and i have to blow the saw dust out of it once in a while but the planes never clog it up i had my plane laying on its side i thought it might hurt the edge if i just set it down flat and a friend said i was one of those types i said what do you mean he said it was just a rhykenologist joke i dont even know what that is i know i aint been running any fever thou David i will just be glad when get better in this craft

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

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